A prosecution costs order of £2,800 was neither just nor reasonable following an offender’s conviction for voyeurism. Although it represented only a contribution to the prosecution’s costs, it did not properly reflect the fact that the offender had been acquitted of one of two counts, or the fact that he had limited means and ability to pay. A proper order was one of £1,400.
ABILITY TO PAY
A judge had erred in making compensation orders without regard to the offenders’ ability to pay or to whether the periods of payment were realistic.
A starting point of four years’ imprisonment when sentencing a company finance director for fraud and conspiracy to defraud was not manifestly excessive; the amount of money involved could not be a determinative factor. In making a costs order of £8,000 against the director, the judge had been entitled to infer, in the absence of evidence of his means, that his financial position was reasonably comfortable and that he could afford to pay it: an inquiry into his means was not required.
A costs order of £15,000 made against an offender who lived with his three children was overturned because he could not pay the order without selling their home.
An accused should not be summarily convicted of contempt of court unless the offence was admitted or proved against him beyond reasonable doubt; nor should a fine be imposed in the absence of a proper enquiry into his ability to pay.